US conducting assessment of Taiwan's defence needs WASHINGTON - Washington has begun a sweeping assessment of Taiwan's defence needs over the next five to 10 years to determine the types of defensive weapon systems the United States should provide it with, a US business leader said Tuesday. Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, which groups US companies with interests in Taiwan, made the remarks following the 2010 US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference that took place in Cambridge, Maryland, from Oct 3-5, bringing together more than 140 government officials, scholars, experts and defence company representatives. The assessment, the most complete and comprehensive of its kind in 10 years, will include an examination of the threat faced by Taiwan from China and Taiwan's capacity to engage in asymmetric warfare, Hammond-Chambers said. Click here to find out more! Participants from Taiwan and the US at the annual conference agreed unanimously that although Taiwan and China have concluded an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) that is set to further enhance cross-Taiwan Strait economic ties, China's military threat to Taiwan persists and the strait remains "one of the globe's potential flashpoints," according Hammond Chambers. Taiwan's deputy defence minister, Andrew Yang, also said in a speech at the conference that the security threat faced by Taiwan from China has not declined because of ECFA, but in fact has increased. Hammond-Chambers said that after the assessment is completed in the next one or two years, the US will not "tell" Taiwan what defence systems it is getting, but instead will "begin dialogue with Taiwan" on the contents of the assessment, as well as on Taiwan's ability to afford arms purchases. On Taiwan's renewed call for the US to sell it F-16C/D fighters, he said that to his knowledge, the US is not thinking so much about whether it should sell Taiwan the advanced jet fighters, but more about the best timing to make the sale. Hammond Chambers said it would not surprise him if the administration of US President Barack Obama announces the F-16C/D sale within a year, as well as the upgrading of the F-16A/B fighters currently used by Taiwan's air force. Yang noted a day earlier that Taiwan has long sought to acquire F-16C/D jet fighters and upgrade its F-16A/Bs to guard the country's airspace and enhance its self-defence capability. "The purchase of 66 F-16C/Ds and the upgrading of F-16A/Bs are two different cases and they are not alternative cases subject to choice between the two," Yang said.